New England dairy farmers are at a disadvantage

Film Reveals Hidden Struggles of Neighboring Farms


Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Al Reetz

'Forgotten Farms' Details Dairy Farmers' Fight for Survival in Age of Artisan Cheese

The Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) and the Co-op Food Stores are teaming up to screen the new movie Forgotten Farms at the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction on May 17 beginning with a 6:30 reception. The film looks at several New England family dairy farms and explores intersections of community, farm policy, land use and economics. Advance tickets are $9 and available online at www.uvlt.org, and $10 at the door.

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Forgotten Farms gives us a glimpse into the past and a vision for a future regional food system. The documentary shows the cultural divide between the new food movement and traditional farming, highlighting the need to examine differences, develop mutual understanding, and find common ground. http://bit.ly/ForgottenFarmsTrailer

Upper Valley milk may travel hundreds of miles to be processed before returning in cartons with out-of-state labels to be consumed by people who live only a few miles from the farm. So is it local? Is it possible for dairy farmers to participate in and benefit from the local foods renaissance? How can people support the farms that are such an important part of their communities and landscape?

“Dairy farms get very little attention, especially compared to the sort of boutique farms that are getting an overwhelming amount of attention in the press,” says producer Sarah Gardner, who is the associate director of Williams College’s Center for Environmental Studies. “Yet those farms produce a relatively small proportion of the food that we consume, while the traditional dairy farms produce almost all of the milk that’s consumed in New England.”

Partnering with Upper Valley Land Trust on this film “is a ideal opportunity for the Co-op,” said Ed Fox, General Manager of the Co-op Food Stores. “Our Co-op seeks to build a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. To be able to cooperate with UVLT on the showing of Forgotten Farms is another way we can act as an educator on issues important to our members and customers.”

Following the screening, former NH Agriculture Commissioner and Plainfield dairy farmer Steve Taylor will moderate a panel discussion with local farmers, Gordon and Pat Richardson, John and Beth Haynes, Liz Bayne, a farm business consultant with Yankee Farm Credit, and film director Dave Simonds. 

It’s easy to forget there’s a connection between the tractor in the field and the butter on your toast.

A typical 150 cow dairy farm spends over $1 million a year in feed, labor, seed, insurance, fuel, utilities and services.

Media Contacts

Sarah Gardner, Director, 'Forgotten Farms': sgardner (at) williams.edu

David Simonds, Producer, 'Forgotten Farms': davesimonds (at) mac.com

Jeanie McIntyre: Jeanie.mcintyre (at) uvlt.org, (603) 643-6626, ext 106

Allan Reetz: areetz (at) coopfoodstore.com, 603-640-6503

The Upper Valley Land Trust is a nonprofit land conservancy whose mission is to help individuals and communities protect the places they love. Founded in 1985, UVLT works in 45 Vermont and New Hampshire towns in the upper Connecticut River valley and has conserved over 500 properties encompassing 51,000 acres and including working dairy farms as well as fruit, vegetable and livestock operations.  Most properties remain in private ownership; about two-dozen are owned by UVLT for conservation stewardship, recreation and educational purposes. UVLT also manages trails and campsites used by Connecticut River paddlers. 

The Hanover Co-op Food Stores—also know as the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society—is owned by more than 24,000 members. With stores in Hanover, Lebanon and White River Junction, the Co-op seeks to build a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. From its founding in 1936 by 17 Dartmouth College professors and their spouses, the Co-op has grown to become the oldest and second largest of its kind in the United States. Today, the Co-op Food Stores serve more than 5,000 customers each day. For more than 80 years, this co-op has maintained a stated commitment to buying locally produced food. In 2016, our members and customers purchased over $13 million worth of local and regional products. The Co-op's three grocery stores, community market and auto service center generated over $70 million last year.

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